Seattle Children’s Center for Diversity and Health Equity supports the hospital’s quest to eliminate pediatric health disparities.

Health disparities are differences in health status and the quality of healthcare between people and communities. Some of the factors that contribute to health disparities in this country are gender, race, ethnicity, education, income, disability, sexual orientation and gender expression.

The center works both internally with hospital staff and faculty and externally with community leaders to ensure the highest quality of care for all of our patients and for the families in the communities we serve.

Cornerstones of Our Work

Ensuring safe and effective care

The center helps the hospital monitor quality of care by race, ethnicity, language and socioeconomic status.

We have found that the care we provide is equitable in some critical areas, such as timeliness of emergency department care and pain management. However, families who identify themselves as non-white or Latino are more likely than white families to say they want to be more involved in decisions about their child’s care. Information like this is used to make improvements that will help eliminate disparities not only at Seattle Children’s but also at other children’s hospitals.

Another way we monitor quality of care is by working with other departments to assure that families with limited English proficiency receive interpretation. In the past year, Children’s provided interpretation for nearly all (98% of) outpatient visits for patients with limited English proficiency. Our hospital policy requires that we provide interpretation twice per day to inpatient families with limited English proficiency; close monitoring has demonstrated that we meet this standard.

The center also provides patient navigation to teach immigrant families how to effectively use the healthcare system for their children’s complex or chronic medical needs. Spanish- and Somali-speaking patient navigators teach families how to become more active participants in their child’s care, schedule appointments and arrange transportation. Patient navigators also train hospital staff and faculty how to provide effective care across cultures.

Connecting with our community

Children’s is committed to helping children grow up without illness and injury. Connecting with children and their families where they live gets us one step closer to achieving our mission.

Not all communities are equal. They have different challenges to keep their children healthy and safe.

The center partners with staff to provide relevant and culturally appropriate child health information and resources to families where they live.

We partner with community organizations to offer classes to parents on topics such as common pediatric illnesses; when to seek medical and dental attention; and how to prepare fast, tasty and nutritious meals.

Cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce

Children’s aims to have a workforce that reflects the communities we serve. We know the benefits that come from having staff whose beliefs, attitudes and life experiences are similar to those of the families we serve. As a truly multicultural organization, we will be better prepared to deliver care that is respectful to all patients.

The center works with others across the organization to introduce youth from racial groups that have been historically underrepresented in healthcare professions to the many career opportunities available in pediatrics. We offer:

  • ePanions, a program that pairs youth with hospital staff for a guided email exchange
  • Tours and hands-on simulated experiences of the work being done by our medical and research teams, in collaboration with the University of Washington’s Health Sciences Center

The center also strives to improve how hospital staff and faculty work with patients and each other. We provide ongoing learning opportunities, including:

  • Mandatory diversity and inclusion training for all new staff
  • Mandatory training for all new frontline staff on the skills and tools needed to overcome the barriers that language and culture present in the delivery of quality care
  • Education about working across cultures and the origins of health disparities
  • An affinity group program to bring staff and faculty together around common interests and experiences